Being the seventh best tennis team in the province brings a smile to Helena Konanz.
The Pen High Lakers coach said that result (among 12 teams) is really good. Konanz said that schools from the Lower Mainland are usually strong because they have the advantage of indoor tennis. Another factor is that private schools have tennis academies, where the students pay to play.
“It was fantastic really,” said Konanz of their performance in Vancouver.
While the goal for the season was to get as many kids out as possible, the team shrinks in numbers come provincials. In the case of the Lakers, they went from 20 players to 11.
“It’s hard to do, but at same time I told them we would carry a small team,” said Konanz. “We would keep them and work on their game all year. I don’t think we had to cut any Grade 12s. If they work on their play, it’s a good chance they can play.”
The Lakers tennis season started during spring break, and those who didn’t make the cut enjoyed five weeks of tennis drilling and clinics. The Lakers also didn’t play a lot of matches this season.
Konanz said she didn’t have expectations for the team entering provincials. She just wanted the kids to have fun and play their best.
That approached helped as they earned big wins against Terry Fox Secondary from Coquitlam and Claremont Secondary School in Victoria.
During the season, a few players impressed Konanz. Among them were Carissa Kocsis, who comes from a tennis family and her father is a tennis coach at Princess Margaret, showed lots of improvement, James Woodhouse, who was on the team last year, but didn’t make the provincial team. Woodhouse, who stands six-foot-five, worked on his skills all season and won most of his matches made the trip to provincials this year. He was joined by his sister Amy, who performed well in her first year. She helped fill the girls roster as there weren’t enough females. Also impressing Konanz was her son Zachary, who she was very happy to coach.
“I was so fortunate to coach my son before he gradated,” she said, “That meant a lot to me. Tennis important to him.”